Can't agree with your better half about decorating? The secret is knowing the RIGHT questions to ask.
Here's a typical scenario that used to happen to me ALL the time. I’m walking around a shop with my husband; I see something I think is perfect for our home. I point it out to him, and he shrugs his shoulders like whatever or shakes his head NO WAY.
Ugh. Now I'm frustrated. Not because of the "No" but because I want to have a real conversation about home decorating and that's hard when he doesn’t seem interested at all.
What I didn’t know, was that the real issue wasn’t with him but that I was asking the wrong questions in the wrong situations!
It’s completely natural to disagree. We’re all unique individuals with different tastes, preferences & opinions. However, when you share the same living space with someone, it's essential to agree on creating a home you both will enjoy. The key is to start a productive (i.e., solution focused) conversation. Here are three steps to stop the arguing and start the decorating!
1. CHANGE YOUR LOCATION
Often we see something browsing in a shop or online. We like it and then ask “Hey, what do you think of this”? Not the best starting point. Why? You’re shopping, and maybe you're also tired, hungry, stressed about time or money, or it's just not your hubby’s favorite past time. All of these factors = not an ideal environment for starting the conversation.
Another problem is that it can hard to be neutral when you’re already attached to an item. You like it a lot, and when he doesn’t (which is likely, because you have different tastes), it can put you in defensive mode, and you both end up taking sides to defend your own opinion. The BEST place to start the discussion around home décor is AT HOME, looking at the area you want to change. Also, it's important to do so at a time you’ve both agreed on and are ready to talk.
2. CHANGE YOUR FOCUS
In my scenario at the beginning of this post, I started the conversation in the store about a specific item. Choosing a time and place as I did is also not a good starting point. FIRST and foremost your focus should be finding and agreeing on the overall look for the area/room you both want to change. You should discuss specific details or items to buy only after that conversation. When you’re on the same page about the final look you both want in your home, it’s SO much easier to compromise on little details along the way. You can buy a little bit of what you both like and include it here and there.
3. CHANGE YOUR CONVERSATION
DON’T start the conversation with "I like" OR "Do you like," that’s set up for taking sides and makes it difficult to agree. Instead, START by discussing these four questions while you're both looking at the area you want to change.
- How do I FEEL when I look at this area?
- How do I WANT TO FEEL when I look at this area?
- How is this area currently BEING USED?
- How could this area be USED DIFFERENTLY?
I highly encourage you both to write down the answers individually BEFORE discussing. Writing helps because you can express your thoughts without being interrupted. If it’s hard to imagine your husband sitting down and writing out the answers, do it yourself first, so you already have your answers prepared. Then mention to him that you want to have a conversation about the area/room that you don’t agree.
If he agrees to talk about it, ask him each question, LISTEN only (no interrupting!) and write down his answers. Then tell him your four answers. THEN discuss how you to decorate in a way that fits with what you both want. You might be pleasantly surprised to see that there are some ideas you both agree.
The power of this four question discussion is twofold. First, each person gets to share and feel heard. This is a much better starting point for a productive conversation. Second, the last two questions allow you to brainstorm & visualize TOGETHER toward a shared vision. I cannot stress enough how important having a common vision is because this was my biggest challenge. I'd spend a lot of time thinking about our home and how we had arranged it, but I only told my husband 30 % of these thoughts because he’s not as into home interiors as I am. So when I'd see something in the shop, I immediately know exactly where it would fit in because it’s something I’ve already put in a lot of thought. BUT explaining that to my husband then and there makes it very hard for him to visualize and see it the same way I do, only because I didn't include him in my conversations.
To be on the same page, you need to have already had the conversation (using these three steps!) beforehand. Then you’re ready to discuss random items you find in the shop. Altering how you approach conversations about your home makes all the difference. These three steps will encourage you to understand each other and think outside of the box, ultimately guiding you to find a common vision for your home.
Let me know about your experience in the comments! What's something you typically disagree about when decorating? Which of the three steps was most helpful?